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Pru says Bloomer’s departure will not change its strategy

Prudential is adamant that the departure of group chief executive Jonathan Bloomer will not alter its UK strategy and 800m is still earmarked for spending on distribution.

Bloomer will leave Prudential in May following City criticism of the handling of its recent 1bn rights issue, intended to fund investment in its multi-tie and IFA strategies.

He will be replaced by HBOS finance director Mark Tucker, formerly head of Pru’s Asia business. Pru chairman David Clementi has credited Tucker with making the company a top two player in Asia.

Pru says UK chief executive Mark Wood remains with the business while IFAs say they are relaxed about the change.

After Bloomer survived calls for his removal last November, following the rights issue, commentators thought he had escaped the axe. On March 2, Pru reported a rise in UK operating profits and sales growth of 39 and 40 per cent respectively in 2004.

Cazalet Consulting principal Ned Cazalet says the surprise is in the timing. After the board backed Bloomer’s strategy throughout the rights issue, Cazalet expected them to continue supporting him through the next stage of that strategy.

Bloomer has been chief executive since 2000, a turbulent period which saw Pru closing its direct salesforce, cutting the group’s dividend for the first time and failing to sell its majority stake in internet bank Egg last August. He is expected to leave with a payoff of around 1.7m.

Cazalet says: “I am not surprised he has gone but thought they would have given him longer after backing the rights issue strategy.”

Pru spokesman Steve Colton says: “Tucker’s arrival will mean a change of style in how the business is managed but it does not change the fundamentals of our strategy. The 800m of the rights issue is earmarked for development of our UK business and nothing has changed there.”

IFA needanadviser.com director Joanne Roberts says: “It seems like Bloomer was brought in to do a specific job and now Mark Tucker, with greater experience of Pru, will continue to drive the business forward.

“You cannot knock them. They have been paying out bonuses when other providers have not.”

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